Wednesday, March 01, 2017
After Early College
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The other piece that might work is the explicit intention to reverse transfer into a career focused post-bac diploma.
Associates degree while in high school, finish liberal bachelors, return for the diploma that gives some specific training to an industry. We know this is happening already, but students often understand it as a 'failed' Bachelors. This would make it a deliberate career prep strategy - you need both of the skill sets to launch.
The science credits earned for her Early College credits are not at the majors level, so she will actually need to take chemistry and physics at her four-year school. (She thankfully will not need to retake subjects because her Early College science credits are in biology and geology).
What the 2-year degree has bought her is a slightly lighter load for four-years and the ability to pursue other classes (maybe a second major, and maybe some graduate classes in year 4) but I do not know how much overall savings will be realized.
There is a second very real effect of taking lots of Early College Credits that I have seen among my advisees (and one that my child will run into) if you take to many credits that do not count towards a major (like her biology credits), they still count towards the 150% limit of financial aid. I even had one student who had to file an appeal with financial aid finish their 2-year degree because she had too many Early College elective credits
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My own experience was too limited to match what is in the Anonymous comment immediately before this one. Instead, just jumping over some boring HS classes and getting a head start on some college ones made my senior year more tolerable. I ended up with the best of both worlds: exposure to persons MUCH older than myself (I took a night class) plus learning in some college-level HS classes with my peers. Not AP, just some top notch (possibly prep-school level) classes that were more challenging than the freshmen classes I took the next year.
The big gain for me is that I had about a semester to burn on electives, and could take almost anything I wanted if my Honors advisor agreed. Those classes never added up to a Minor, let alone a double major, but they did turn into a career. I actually double-majored in a major that didn't exist then, and rarely exists today. Don't discount having a free semester or two.
What you need to watch out for are advising, advising, and advising. The biggest risk is what I see all the time with AP classes. Taking the wrong classes. I took the right one: calculus. Nothing like being ahead in math in a STEM field. It is actually a net negative to be ahead in other liberal arts gen ed classes, or even in some science classes if they need calculus for the next one. You need a clear "pathway" for them based on career intersts, and good monitoring along the way, matching that path to a specific, realistic, transfer institution or two so the student knows what to expect after transfer. (For example, my calculus-based class is just a warmup for the class required at a private university some of my students go to, while it is identical to what is expected at another one they sometimes go to.) They need to see how it all fits together, with no surprises.
And I mean advising at the college, not the high school. Here the classes are set up by the high school, and the HS didn't seem to react properly even when a student failed a class. In one case, I saw no evidence of any counseling by anyone except me, and that didn't help the first time or the second. I know they work with out staff to choose the right classes, but our staff don't have much experience advising genius-level students.
The economic gain is real in my field. People pay you to go to grad school in STEM fields, so any time saved in undergrad is all gravy. But that will be lost if the student doesn't make up for some limited experiences with good internships, rather than just slamming through the coursework.
You also need to have faculty with some awareness that they might have a 16 year old young woman in a class with a 25 year old army vet or a 45 year old returning student. Maybe even as lab partners. To my knowledge, our college does not screen students or faculty at any where the same level that a high school will screen visitors or volunteers. You don't want a scandal.